Support for independence in Scotland is at its lowest since the country got a semi-autonomous government in 1999, according to the annual Scottish Social Attitudes survey.
Backing for independence fell to 23 percent last year from 32 percent in 2011, ScotCen Social Research said in an e-mailed statement. The proportion of people thinking independence would give Scotland a stronger voice in the world fell to 42 percent from 51 percent.
Breaking away from the U.K. is the flagship policy of the ruling Scottish National Party. First Minister Alex Salmond reached agreement in October with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a referendum on independence by the end of 2014.
“The proponents of independence have apparently struggled to capitalize on the resulting opportunity to persuade Scots of the merits of their case,” John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said in the statement. “Instead more voters appear to have become concerned about the prospect of leaving the U.K.”
Since 2007, when the SNP ran a minority administration, support for independence reported in the Scottish Social Attitudes survey has averaged 26 percent compared with 30 percent in the eight years before that.
The latest opinion poll by TNS BMRB showed support for Scotland going it alone at 28 percent, the same as three months earlier, with an increase in the number of undecided voters.
About three times as many voters are worried about the prospect of independence than confident, according to the survey, which was funded by ScotCen, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Electoral Reform Society. They are equally divided as to whether independence would improve Scotland’s economy.
A total of 1,229 adults were interviewed between July and November for the survey.